Man Utd will axe a senior star who doesn’t want to leave in 2023 after deciding not to extend his deal, and two big-money replacements have already been touted, per reports.
Erik ten Hag has shown he has the gravitas to make big decisions since taking charge at Manchester United. Many managers would’ve shied away from getting on the wrong side of Cristiano Ronaldo. However, the Dutchman was firm in his belief Ronaldo did not suit his system and repeatedly left the Portuguese icon out.
The end result was Ronaldo failing to accept he is a declining force and a mutual parting of ways was agreed. The bulk of Man Utd’s best displays this term have come without Ronaldo in the eleven.
Other United stars who are poor fits for Ten Hag’s style have also been linked with exits.
Right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been put up for sale and a third Premier League side have emerged as a viable suitor for January.
Elsewhere, Ten Hag wasted little time relegating Harry Maguire to a bench role, while speculation continues to swirl David de Gea’s time at the club is coming to a close.
Now, Sky Germany reporter, Florian Plettenberg, has delivered a hammer-blow to the Spaniard.
Man Utd swing the axe
Plettenberg tweeted he’s been made aware that Man Utd ‘at this stage’, are ‘not considering’ activating the one-year option in De Gea’s contract.
The 32-year-old’s deal expires at season’s end, with United holding an option for an extra 12 months. If true and United have no desire to trigger it, De Gea will leave the club in 2023.
From the player’s end, De Gea would ‘like to stay’ beyond the length of his current deal. However, it appears Ten Hag will make a ruthless decision and push the four-time Man Utd Players’ Player of the Year out.
De Gea is a modern-day United icon and but for his heroics with the gloves, the post-Ferguson era would’ve been even bleaker.
However, Ten Hag is known to want a goalkeeper who is more comfortable with his feet and also willing to adopt a higher starting position.
The latter is with a view to ensuring there isn’t such a huge gap between the goalkeeper and defence who Ten Hag wants to push high up the field. Doing so makes the outfield 10 more compact and increases the chances of United winning back possession in the opposition’s own half.
For all the wonderous saves De Gea has made, he has always remained limited with ball at feet. Unfortunately for the Spaniard, it sounds like it’ll cost him his United career.
Two early contenders to replace De Gea
United are understood to be in discussions over a move to sign Borussia Monchengladbach’s Yann Sommer next month.
However, the Swiss veteran is being lined up as a high class number two, meaning a more high profile addition will be required to succeed De Gea. Indeed Plettenberg concluded Ten Hag is open to signing a new No 1.
On that front, two major names have been linked of late – Leeds Utd’s Illan Meslier and FC Porto’s Diogo Costa.
Costa, 23, dropped two clangers for Portugal in Qatar, with the latter proving decisive as Portugal bowed out to surprise package Morocco.
His first error came against Ghana when failing to check if there were any opposition players lurking when preparing to launch the ball up-field. Costa placed the ball on the floor and was dispossessed by Inaki Williams, though the Ghanaian slipped at the vital moment and did not punish the mistake.
Costa was then beaten in the air by Youssef En-Nesyri for Morocco’s winning goal against Portugal in the quarter final. Many might’ve expected those two red flags to ward off United, though per A Bola, that’s not the case.
The Portuguese outlet claimed United’s interest in Costa ‘stays firm’ despite his lapses in Qatar. Clearly, they’re not prepared to let a pair of individual errors cloud an otherwise stellar record.
Costa signed a contract extension with Porto on November 3 that saw his release clause raised from £44m to approximately £64m. The latter figure would make him one of the most expensive goalkeepers of all time, though is still well within United’s means.
The other target drawing links to United is Leeds’ Meslier
The 22-year-old is viewed as a future France No 1 and has racked up an incredible number of first-team matches for a stopper so young (150).
He was previously labelled ‘untouchable’ by Leeds when rumours of a step-up up in class began to emerge over the summer.
However, finances would likely dictate any Leeds decision if a big bid were tabled. French outlet MediaFoot recently claimed both Man Utd and Chelsea are ready to try their luck with sizeable bids in 2023.